The Buffalo Bisons (Class AAA; International League) and the Toronto Blue Jays are entering the fourth season of their affiliation, and that relationship could continue. The Bisons have stated their interest in extending their player development contract (PDC) with the Blue Jays, and are confident that a new deal will be reached.
Following the 2012 season, the Bisons ended their affiliation with the New York Mets and signed with the Blue Jays. At the time, it was expected that both sides would benefit from the four-year PDC: the Blue Jays were returning to the International League and tapping into a nearby market, while the Bisons were seeking to reach fans in southern Ontario to boost attendance.
Fans have been coming out to Coca-Cola Field in higher numbers over the past few years, with last year’s full-season attendance of 551, 303 representing the highest total since 2010. During the course of their agreement, the Bisons and the Blue Jays have sought to promote their ties, which Bisons vice president and general manager Mike Buczkowski cited as a reason for the team’s desire to continue the affiliation. More from the Buffalo Business First:
Buczkowski said early talks were held during spring training.
“We had some good discussions and we will continue those,” Buczkowski said. “We’re happy with the relationship and so are they.”
On a scale of one to 10, Buczkowski said he was extremely confident the partnership between the Bisons and Blue Jays would continue. The current pact expires after this season.
“I’d give it an 11,” he said.
Even with the weakened Canadian dollar, baseball fans from Southern Ontario account for 25 percent of all tickets sold at Coca-Cola Field. That percentage has grown incrementally since the Blue Jays/Bisons partnership began in 2013 season.
Before affiliating with the Blue Jays, Southern Ontario baseball fans accounted for approximately 12 percent of those who attended a game at Coca-Cola Field.
With PDCs expiring at all levels of the minors this year, there should be even more news over the coming months. Be sure to keep an eye on our Affiliate Dance: 2016 page to follow this story and other future developments.